Internet marketers readily agree social media is important… but when it comes to figuring out how important, or how to measure and evaluate success in social media marketing, things get a little fuzzy. After all, most people don’t see a social post, click through to a landing page, and make a conversion like they would if they were coming from a search engine.
As a result, most businesses settle for preliminary indicators of interest (usually likes and shares) to gauge the effectiveness of their social campaigns. But, are these really good metrics to use? Do they actually tell us anything useful?
Let’s take a look at both sides of the coin…
Shares and Likes are Temporary and Noncommittal.
Getting someone to like your post isn’t exactly the same as making a sale, is it? In fact, we all know how easy it is to click on something (either to “like” it on Facebook or “+1” on Google Plus) in a spontaneous moment without even thinking about it. Many times, we might even do so without ever thinking about the post or topic again.
For that reason, putting too much stock into these small indicators can be dangerous. Not only are they quick and noncommittal, but they could leave you chasing new trends and fun ideas instead of more complex concepts that would make a real and lasting impression on your followers.
Any Form of Engagement Will Generate More Views.
Saying that likes and shares don’t have any tangible financial value isn’t the same as saying they don’t have any value at all, however. The more people you have responding to your content, the more of their friends and followers you can expect to reach.
Additionally, changes to engagement formulas on Facebook and Twitter mean popular posts are more likely to be seen in users’ feeds. So, any form of engagement (even something as simple as a like) will help to generate more views.
Shares and Likes Can Alert You to Hot Topics.
Sometimes, you might not realize just how hot a particular topic is until you create a social post and watch the likes and shares start to climb. Then, you can take the same subject and create a blog post, email newsletter, or other marketing piece that builds on the initial concept.
In this way, likes and shares can be valuable because they can lead you towards profitable campaigns even if those campaigns are executed away from social media.
When it comes down to it, likes and shares can be good ways of measuring the progress you’re making on social media, but only if you examine them in the right context and see whether bigger results (clicks, conversion, etc.) are eventually resulting. Otherwise, it can be easy to spend a lot of your time hunting for small bits of engagement that aren’t really moving you closer to your bottom-line business goals.